Reluctant Persuaders. Image shows from L to R: Amanda (Josie Lawrence), Joe (Mathew Baynton), Hardacre (Nigel Havers), Teddy (Rasmus Hardiker). Copyright: ABsoLuTeLy Productions

Key details

2015 - 2021
BBC Radio 4
20 (4 series)
Nigel Havers, Josie Lawrence, Mathew Baynton, Rasmus Hardiker, Olivia Nixon and Kieran Hodgson
Edward Rowett, Rob Grant and Mark Evans
Alan Nixon
Gordon Kennedy

For three decades, Rupert Hardacre was one of the big beasts of advertising, the self-proclaimed "British David Ogilvy". He worked hard, played hard, and lived hard. But he fell harder...

Driven out of every reputable agency in town for drinking all their whiskey and sleeping with all their wives, he used the remains of his fortune to found Hardacre's, the best (and only) advertising agency on the M25. Now he's so confident that his name alone will take him back to the top, he's happy to leave all the actual work to the creative department.

Joseph Starling and Teddy Beech - the entire creative department - have never been at the top of anything. Arts graduates in a tough economy, they took the first jobs they could find, and know precisely nothing about advertising. However, armed with a BA in English and a Gentleman's Third in Graphic Design, they're ready to take on the world. If only someone would tell them what it is they're supposed to be doing...

Amanda Barnes is the agency's new arrival, one of Campaign Magazine's 50 Account Managers To Watch... in 2006. Unfortunately, after several years out of the industry, Amanda is discovering it isn't that easy to get back on at the same level you got off at. Nevertheless, she is determined to work her way back to the top, even if she has to drag Hardacre's behind her single-handed.

Together with their permanently disinterested receptionist Laura; Hardacre, Joe, Teddy, and Amanda must work together to cater to the smallest, strangest, and most sinister clients in town, and prove they've got what it takes to get ahead in advertising.

Series 2: Hardacre's might still be the worst advertising agency in town, but they're on the up. Thanks to the relentless efforts of account manager Amanda, work is finally coming in. From ready meals that are almost 100% horse-free to a laser eye treatment that probably doesn't cause paranoid hallucinations, Hardacre's must sell the unsellable.

Spurred on by Amanda's oft-stated desire to fire them, copywriter Joseph Starling and art director Teddy Beech have begun to write more effective ads that don't all revolve around puns. Creative director Rupert Hardacre is determined to prove he's still got it - taking a more active creative role, and only drinking with, after, or before meals. Hampering the team's efforts is receptionist Laura who would rather be literally anywhere else. Hardacre's are back to take on the world. But they might not win...

Series 3: The second series ended in euphoria, as Hardacre's secured their biggest ever account - the Cosmos X10 smartphone. Now there's a reality check, as the team realise how woefully ill-equipped they are to handle a client of this magnitude.

Series 4: Rupert is nowhere to be found at the start of the fourth series, and his team seem to be coping well without him - especially Joe, who relishes the chance to be in charge and make new friends.

Additional details


Broadcast details

First broadcast
Tuesday 15th September 2015 at 6:30pm on BBC Radio 4
Most recent repeats

Recording details

  • RADA Studios
  • Stratford Circus
  • Stonehouse Studios (London) - Series 4

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